Michigan defeats Illinois 74-64

January 4, 2009

2009-0104-ad-umbball237For the second game in a row Coach Beilein tweaked the starting line up. Against Wisconsin Zack Novak was added to the lineup in place of Jevohn Shepherd. Against Illinois Laval Lucas-Perry made his first career start in place of Stu Douglass.

This was a critical game for Michigan since they were coming off a home loss to Wisconsin and Illinois was coming in riding a 7 game winning streak and fresh off a road win at Purdue.

DeShawn Sims got things started for Michigan with a 3 pointer and that kicked off a barrage of Michigan 3 pointers in the first half. Michigan was up 16-9 early and had already nailed 4 triples (Sims twice, Lucas-Perry, and Novak).

Illinois responded by going on a 13-2 run and taking a 22-18 lead. Kelvin Grady ended the Illini run by draining a 3 pointer and moments later he found Zack Gibson for a lay up.

Illinois stretched the lead out to 29-23 and 31-26 and they were making just about every shot they threw up.

Zack Novak ended the first half with an 8 point flurry including two 3 pointers.

The hot shooting Illini led 39-38 at the half thanks to shooting 59% from the field. Michigan kept it close by drilling 8 of 18 on 3 pointers.

Michigan came out in the second half with some fire and Manny Harris stoked the flames when he blocked a Mike Davis dunk attempt.

Michigan finally took the lead back at 48-46 courtesy of a Laval Lucas-Perry triple. The two teams slugged it out for the next several minutes with the lead changing hands numerous times.

gibsonill1Zack Gibson entered the game when Zack Novak was bloodied after he banged heads with Alex Legion (the cut required 6 stitches). Gibson sparked a game closing run for Michigan when he drilled a 3 pointer and followed it up with a block on the other end. Laval Lucas-Perry made a key lay up for Michigan with the shot clock expiring that gave Michigan a 64-62 lead they would not relinquish. In fact Michigan closed out the game with a 12-2 run and some clutch free throw shooting. Michigan won the game 74-64 and had 5 players score in double digits lead by Manny Harris who scored 16 to go along with 6 boards, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Sims added 13 points and 9 rebounds. Lucas-Perry scored 13 and dished out 5 assists. Zack Novak scored 11 and Zack Gibson 10.

Inside the numbers: Michigan had 18 assists on 26 made field goals and only 8 turnovers. Michigan had 6 steals and 3 blocks in the game. Michigan shot 11-27 on three pointers. Illinois edged Michigan on the boards 33-30.

Road to 21 wins:  This was a game I had marked as a win. Michigan has yet to lose one of the games I projected them to win and they have won 2 games that I did not project them to win.

Notes: Laval Lucas-Perry has scored double digits in all 5 of his games. 
Zack Novak did return to the game after getting stitched up. He was wearing the #11 jersey because his #0 jersey was blood stained. 

Quotes: John Beilein: “I mentioned to the team, one of the biggest plays might have happened at halftime as DeShawn Sims really showed some great leadership. He wanted to win that ball game and his passion was terrific.”

Zack Novak:  “My job is to hit the threes and my teammates are finding me open. They’re driving the ball and I just move to the open spot. They find me and I knock them down.”

Bruce Weber: “They’ve got a good group and he’s got his system in,” He’s spreading you, playing small ball, and he puts you in a bind. He’s done a nice job here.”

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Michigan defeats NCCU 77-57

December 29, 2008

novak11Michigan started the game with a quick 7-0 run. Manny Harris started things off on the opening possession by draining a three. On the next possession Manny missed a three then he stole the ball on the defensive end and lobbed an alley oop to DeShawn Sims and that is how the 7-0 run started. After a North Carolina Central free throw made the score 7-1 DeShawn Sims hit a three to put Michigan up 10-1.

Michigan was up 13-5 when we all got a scare as DeShawn Sims rolled his ankle and limped off into the tunnel. Thankfully he returned to the court a few minutes later.

The Eagles had trimmed Michigan’s early lead to 13-9 when Laval Lucas-Perry checked in and promptly nailed back to back triples to open the lead up to 19-9.

Moments later Lucas-Perry would hit another triple to put Michigan up 24-9. After back to back lay ups from Zack Gibson and DeShawn Sims Michigan was up 28-12 and seemed ready to roll. The North Carolina Central went on a nice run to cut the lead down to 36-31 at one point and 38-31 at the half. Jamar Briscoe keyed the Eagles run while doing his best Earl Boykins impression.

Michigan came out of the locker room with a purpose and 4 minutes into the second half opened the lead back up to 55-35. Stu Douglass scored Michigan’s first 5 points of the half.

Michigan had another lull and allowed the Eagles to creep back to within 8 points at 59-51.

North Carolina Central would only score 6 points in the final 9 minutes of the game. While that was happening Kelvin Grady pushed the tempo for Michigan and the Wovlerines pulled away to secure a 77-57 victory and improve to 10-2.

Manny Harris had another monster night scoring 29 points, grabbing a career high 16 rebounds to go along with 7 assists and 1 turnover. DeShawn Sims scored 17 points and hauled down 9 boards to go along with 3 steals.  Laval Lucas-Perry scored 10 points and was 3-4 on three pointers. Kelvin Grady did not score but in 27 minutes he dished out 4 assists and did not turn the ball over. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan had 17 assists on 24 field goals and turned the ball over 11 times. Michigan was 9-30 on three pointers. 

Notes: Sims didn’t play the final few minutes and appeared to be limping a bit as he ran down the tunnel. 


Sims goes for 20 and 20 in win

December 22, 2008

simsfgcuMichigan did not play their finest half of the season in the opening stanza. However, against a wild and sloppy Florida Gulf Coast team it was good enough to take a 39-18 lead at the break.

DeShawn Sims led the first half charge scoring 9 points and grabbing a career high 13 rebounds. Laval Lucas-Perry chipped in 7 points and 3 rebounds.

Michigan shot a miserable 6-22 on three point attempts in the first half. In the first half 7 Michigan players scored. Manny Harris and Kelvin Grady each shot 2-6 on three pointers in the opening half. Michigan shot 7-8 on first half free throws to build upon their Big Ten leading free throw shooting percentage. The Wolverines also out rebounded the Eagles 28-16 in the first half including 11-1 on the offensive glass.

gradyfgcuFlorida Gulf Coast scored the first 5 points of the second half. Michigan finally got on the board on 2 CJ Lee free throws. Soon thereafter DeShawn Sims and Stu Douglass hit back to back three pointers and Michigan had opened the lead back up to 49-25. Michigan continued to kind of coast along in front of a lackluster holiday crowd. The Wolverines were holding the Eagles at bay but not really playing that well. Then all of sudden Florida Gulf Coast bangs a couple of threes and goes on a little run to cut the lead all the way down to 8 points. DeShawn Sims, who was the player of the game with 20 points and 20 rebounds, hit a three ball and then scored on a dunk to keep Michigan up by 10.
douglassdunkThen finally some three balls started dropping for
Michigan as they closed out the game with 3 point daggers courtesy of Laval Lucas-Perry and two from Kelvin Grady. Grady scored 8 points in the closing minutes and Stu Douglass sealed it with a dunk to score Michigan’s final points. Michigan won 76-59 and that is the important thing. However they did not play that well and certainly there will be some teaching points for the coaching staff on the film.

Kelvin Grady scored 14 points, Stu Douglass scored 12 and Laval Lucas-Perry chipped in 10 points. Manny Harris scored 6 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, and 4 turnovers. 

Inside the numbers: Michigan was 12-42 on three pointers for 28.6%. After the back to back games of exceptional assist to turnover ratios the Wolverines only picked up 15 assists and turned the ball over 15 times. Florida Gulf Coast turned the ball over 26 times. 

Notes: Michigan will be off until next Monday when they play North Carolina Central and follow that up with the Big Ten opener at home against Wisconsin on New Years Eve.

DeShawn Sims is the first Wolverine to post a 20-point, 20-rebound performance in 31 years. The last Wolverine to accomplish the feat was Phil Hubbard, who had 22 points and 26 rebounds vs. Detroit (March 17, 1977).

With his 20 rebounds, DeShawn Sims posted the most rebounds by a Big Ten Conference player this season. The previous best for U-M and in the conference was by teammate Manny Harris, who had 15 against Norfolk State (Nov. 25).

Michigan played 10 players with the lowest minutes going to Zack Gibson and Jevohn Shepherd who both played 13 minutes. I would expect that Coach Beilein is going to want to trim down the rotation a bit as they head into Big Ten play. He has said in the past he likes to use 7 or 8 guys in his rotation. 


Laval Lucas-Perry

December 15, 2008

 

llpHere is the lowdown on LLP. Lucas-Perry played his high school ball for Flint Powers where he was a two time All State selection. Lucas-Perry enrolled at Arizona last year where he played 49 minutes in 5 games and scored 20 points. He transferred from Arizona to Michigan and practiced with the team most of last season.

Lucas-Perry petitioned the NCAA and was granted a season of competition waiver to regain one season of eligibility. That was huge because if that request had been denied he would have only had 2.5 years of eligibility. Now he has 3.5 years to play for Michigan.

He is listed at 6-3, 185 pounds. He can play either guard position but figures to play a lot of point guard for Coach Beilein.

We have heard glowing reports about his play in practice since last year. Tim McCormick said LLP would be the best point guard at Michigan since Rumeal Robinson. Lucas-Perry is said to be a very good defender and possibly the best defender on the team. McCormick also said that Lucas-Perry has a unique ability to separate and that he “gets it”.

Jay Williams did the color commentary for the Michigan Tech game and said, He said he had talked with Jerryd Bayless about LLP and he told Williams that Lucas-Perry was one of the toughest guys for him to guard. Williams later said that when LLP was eligible to play it was going to really improve Michigan’s team.

I had the chance to speak with Lucas-Perry after the Savannah State game and asked him if he was ready to go. He quickly responded with Maryland, Duke, Eastern and then I can play.

I will be in attendance at the Palace for his debut and am really looking forward to seeing him play. 


Michigan Hammers Norfolk State

November 25, 2008

novaknf11Let me start out by saying I love the chemistry on this team. These guys are really functioning as a unit on the court. They are playing hard and they are playing together. Coach Beilein said you can beat anybody when you believe in what you are doing. These guys believe.

Michigan had to win this game and preferably in convincing fashion and that is exactly what they did with an 81-49 victory over an outmatched Norfolk State team.

Michigan actually started the game 0-10 from the field and did not score until Stuart Douglass hit a three pointer at the 15:21 mark. Zack Novak provided a huge spark in the first half with 10 points.

Manny Harris continued his incredible start to the season by scoring 16 points, hauling down a career high 15 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, and picking up a steal.

shepherdnfJevohn Shepherd had the best game of his career scoring 11 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 0 turnovers.

Anthony Wright started the game 0-5 but finished 4-5 good for 12 points and he had 5 rebounds

Michigan was really pushing the tempo especially when Kelvin Grady was in at the point. Grady was playing very fast and under control. Grady only scored 3 points but had 5 assists against 2 turnovers.

Coach John Beilein said in the post game that Michigan’s offensive transition game was “exceptional tonight”. He said he wants to run on every rebound and every turnover at full speed, just go.

He also mentioned that Manny Harris had 10 defensive rebounds and “that is the greatest face break you can have because everyone has to go at his (Harris’) speed, which is very fast”.

The Wolverines had some very good ball movement as they played very unselfish basketball. They really seem to be coming together as a team and that great chemistry that Coach Beilein said this team has is becoming very apparent.  

 

Tim McCormick did the color commentary. Being a Clarkston native I have always respected McCormick and I have noticed that he is not afraid to tell it as it is. When things don’t look good he will say that and not try to serve any maize and blue Kool-Aid. On this night McCormick had a lot of good things to say, which I take as a good sign about the team. Here are some of his comments:   

On Laval Lucas-Perry: He said that Lucas-Perry has a unique ability to separate and he said “this guy gets it”. He also said that LLP will be the best point guard Michigan has had since Rumeal Robinson. 

 On Zack Novak: Novak understands the offense at the level of a junior or senior. 

On Manny Harris: Manny reminds him of former Michigan great Mike McGee. He also said Manny is the best scorer in the Big Ten and that he can score in many different ways. 

McCormick also said what I have heard several other basketball people say about Michigan, “they play hard”.  

Inside the numbers: After starting the game 0-10 Michigan shot 32-61 good for 54% from the field. The Wolverines had 21 assists on 32 made field goals. Michigan had 14 turnovers, 7 steals, and 5 blocked shots. Michigan did out rebound the Spartans 49-35 and had 16 offensive rebounds. Michigan was 9-27 on three pointers and had 6 different players make a three pointer.

Notes: Ben Cronin played 8 minutes and scored 6 points to go along with 2 rebounds.
Zack Gibson tweaked his back in the first half and did not return.
   

 


Yes, I am predicting 21 wins

November 15, 2008

I have taken a little heat for the 17 games in my “win” category and for my 21 wins prediction. (Let everybody know what you think by voting in the poll at the end of this post) So let’s take another look at those games:

 

Michigan TechCoach John Beilein

Northeastern

Norfolk State

Savannah State

Eastern Michigan

Oakland (at the Palace)

Florida Gulf Coast

North Carolina Central

Illinois

at Indiana

Iowa

at Penn State

Northwestern

Penn State

at Northwestern

Minnesota

at Minnesota

 

One comment I heard a couple of times was how hard it is to win on the road in the Big Ten. The road games I have Michigan winning are
at
Indiana: I know Michigan never wins in Bloomington, but this is going to be a season like no other in Bloomington.

at Penn State: Michigan lost here last year but I think they can win this one

at Northwestern: Michigan won here last year.

at Minnesota: This might be the biggest reach of the road games.

Ok, even if you split those 4 road games that is 15 wins with 14 more games to play.

I submit that they will not lose all 14 of those games.

 

Here are some reasons why I think Michigan can accomplish the 21 wins I predicted.

 

  1. Coach John Beilein has a history of marked improvement in his second season at a school. He is a very good coach and you can’t disregard that fact.
  2. Manny Harris is a candidate for Big Ten player of the year. He could have a very big season. Coach Beilein has commented on how much he loves the chemistry of this team.
  3. Laval Lucas-Perry will be eligible to play on December 20th against Oakland. All reports on him have been very good.
  4. The Big Ten is down a little this year. Indiana is in a bigger rebuilding situation then Michigan was last year and with less talent. Illinois and Iowa are also a bit down.

 

So there you have it. I am standing by my prediction of 21 wins. I think they win all 17 of those games listed above and at least 4 of the remaining 14 games. I really don’t see how those projections are that outrageous. Remember this is a new era of Michigan Basketball.

 

 

 

2009 Recruiting Class

November 14, 2008

Michigan kicked off the early signing period by receiving 4 letters of intent. The 2009 recruiting class is a good one and fills many of the needs the team has. Here are the commits:

Darius Morris: 6-4 PG, from Los Angeles, California
Blake McLimans: 6-10 F, from Hamburg, New York
Jordan Morgan: 6-8 F, from Detroit, Michigan
Matt Vogrich: 6-4 SG, from Lake Forest, Illinois

MGoBlue has a good write up on the class, including Coach Beilein’s comments on each player.
Here is the link MGoBlue

Morris is a highly rated point guard. Vogrich was recently named the best shooter in the 2009 class by The Sporting News. McLimans is a versatile big man who Beilein thinks could be a star. Morgan is a good all around player with good size.

 

The Wolverines will lose 3 players from this years squad and they are David Merritt, CJ Lee, and Jevohn Shepherd.

This is what the roster should look like next year:

Jr. PG – Kelvin Grady
So. SG/PG – Laval Lucas-Perry
So. SG – Stuart Douglass
Fr. PG – Darius Morris
Fr. SG – Matt Vogrich
So. SG – Stuart Douglass
Jr. SF- Corperryale “Manny” Harris
RS Jr. F – Anthony Wright
So. SF – Zack Novak
RS Sr. C – Zack Gibson
Sr. PF – DeShawn Sims
So. C – Ben Cronin
Fr. PF – Jordan Morgan
Fr. PF – Blake McLimans